The District of Columbia Housing Authority is taking steps to help voucher customers move toward more opportunities in housing, schools, and other city amenities.
“The HALO program, or the Housing Affordable Living Option program, is designed for families to move to low-poverty areas in the District,” said Ronald McCoy, director of DCHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. “We are building relationships with landlords who typically don’t do business with us, educating them about partnerships with DCHA, and gathering data on their screening criteria.”
DCHA employees have been scouring neighborhoods to identify interested landlords who have housing options for our families with vouchers. The staff explains the benefits of partnering with DCHA and arranges pre-inspections to fill units fast. In the past, DCHA sought landlords, but not as aggressively.
The DCHA team is also reaching out to voucher customers and letting them know they have options in other neighborhoods, such as Adams Morgan, Brentwood, Petworth, and Chevy Chase, among other neighborhoods west of the Anacostia River. The team explains the schools and other amenities in each neighborhood that has a participating landlord.
“We do a household assessment to see if they meet the new landlords’ criteria’s and work with them so they can move to those areas,” said Diane Oliver, DCHA Customer Relations Manager.
She explained that data gathered from the landlords’ application criteria is used to identify areas where customers can improve their chances of moving into these areas. If customers are not enrolled in the Family Self Sufficiency program, which works with customers to improve their job prospects and credit scores, for example, HCVP staff can refer them to services that help them improve these and other areas so the customers are in a better position to fulfill the landlord’s criteria.
DCHA will meet regularly with both the customers and landlords to ensure a lasting and positive relationship as part of our mediation services. The goal is to make the process less cumbersome for landlords, McCoy said.
Joseph Asamoah, a landlord who has been working with DCHA for many years, called this a welcome change. Asamoah, who now renovates homes in the higher priced neighborhoods, said having multiple inspections and paperwork can be a hassle. However, one great benefit of the program is a stable income, he said.
“I have been a landlord for over 25 years and find it rewarding to provide quality housing in desirable locations to quality residents. My business philosophy is based on the simple premise that most DCHA families desire the same thing: A beautiful house in a nice area that they can call home. Once they find this, I have found that these customers stay longer,” he said.
Asamoah, who tends to rent renovated homes with multiple bedrooms, said, “If you can create that environment, a quality house in a quality area with amenities...that is close to shopping, transportation, schools, once you get that, people stay. It is common sense.”
Asamoah’s longest tenant has been with him for 20 years, he said.
“I feel good that I’m helping families with clean, safe, affordable housing,” he said. “I enjoy what I do. I like being a landlord. I think I’m providing social benefit to people.”
For more information about the HALO program, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Landlords interested in a special presentation should contact Ms. Noelee Wishart at email@example.com or Ms. Valerie Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.